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Diabetes Health Center

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Diet Beats Drugs for Diabetes Prevention

Study Shows Lifestyle Changes Are More Effective Than Drugs in Preventing Diabetes
By
WebMD Health News

Oct. 28, 2009 -- Lifestyle changes resulting in long-term weight loss of just a few pounds proved to be roughly twice as effective as drug treatment for preventing type 2 diabetes in an ongoing government-sponsored trial.

Researchers followed almost 3,000 high-risk patients for a decade in one of the largest and longest studies aimed at preventing diabetes ever conducted in the U.S.

Roughly a third of the participants were initially asked to eat a low-fat diet and engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a minimum of five times a week, with the goal of losing 7% of their body weight within a year.

Another third were put on the diabetes drug metformin; the remaining patients initially received no intervention.

Many of the people in the lifestyle intervention group met the weight loss goal, losing an average of 15 pounds during the first year of the study.

While they regained, on average, 10 of those pounds during the next seven years, the lifestyle intervention group continued to have the lowest rates of diabetes.

"Weight loss is still the most important thing we have to recommend to overweight people at risk for type 2 diabetes," William C. Knowler, MD, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), tells WebMD. "This study shows that the benefits of even modest weight loss can persist for many years."

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